31 juillet 2018 | International, Aérospatial

GAO backs use of commercial satellites to host military payloads


“Using hosted payloads may help facilitate a proliferation of payloads on orbit, making it more difficult for an adversary to defeat a capability."

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon should use commercial satellites as host platforms for military sensors and communications packages, says a new Government Accountability Office report released on Monday.

GAO auditors investigated the pros and cons of “hosted payloads” and agreed with what private satellite operators have been saying for years: The military can save money and get capabilities on-orbit faster by hitching rides on commercial satellites. The industry has been building huge spacecraft that have extra carrying capacity, and hosting national security payloads is viewed as a profitable business that also helps the military fill a need.

The report says there are national security benefits to deploying military payloads on commercial satellites. “Using hosted payloads may also help facilitate a proliferation of payloads on orbit, making it more difficult for an adversary to defeat a capability.”

Since 2009, DoD has used three commercially hosted payloads, with three more missions planned or underway through 2022.

In 2011, the Air Force created a Hosted Payload Office to provide expertise and other tools to facilitate matching government payloads with commercial hosts. GAO found that defense programs using hosted payloads are not required and generally do not provide cost and technical data, or lessons learned, to the Hosted Payload Office. Having that information would “better position DoD to make informed decisions when considering acquisition approaches for upcoming space system designs.”

The Pentagon has not been too keen on hosted payloads for several reasons, GAO noted. There is a perception among some defense officials that matching government payloads to commercial satellites is too difficult. Another concern is that DoD's knowledge on using hosted payloads is “fragmented, in part because programs are not required to share information.”

DoD officials who spoke with GAO identified “logistical challenges to matching government payloads with any given commercial host satellite.” For example, they cited size, weight and power constraints as barriers to using hosted payloads. Some individual DoD offices have realized cost and schedule benefits, but “DoD as a whole has limited information on costs and benefits of hosted payloads,” said the report.

Officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense told GAO that “matching requirements between government payloads and commercial satellites is typically too difficult for programs to overcome.”

DoD's Hosted Payload Office is “developing tools designed to help address these challenges,” said the report. Defense officials also argued that budget and planning processes are a hurdle. “This can complicate alignment with commercial timelines because the development of a government sensor would need to be underway well in advance of a decision to fund a commercially hosted payload approach.”

Officials told GAO that it is possible to align government and commercial timelines. For example, the Missile Defense Agency adopted the commercial host's schedule to ensure its Space Based Kill Assessment payload was ready for integration and launch without delaying the host satellite or missing its ride to space. Similarly, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has been able to align acquisition and development schedules with the commercial host.

In its written comments in the report, DoD concurred with GAO's recommendations and noted that the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center had initiated a major reorganization and that under the new organization, the Hosted Payload Office had changed and may not be the appropriate office for centralizing DoD-wide hosted payload knowledge.

Language in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act directs the Pentagon to seize oversight of military investments in hosted payloads.


Sur le même sujet

  • Emirati conglomerate unveils two drones and a weapons system

    15 novembre 2021 | International, Aérospatial

    Emirati conglomerate unveils two drones and a weapons system

    Emirati conglomerate Edge Group has unveiled a series of vertical-takeoff-and-landing drones as well as a precision-guided munition system.

  • Army in final stages of hashing out Stryker lethality requirements

    10 octobre 2018 | International, Terrestre

    Army in final stages of hashing out Stryker lethality requirements

    By: Jen Judson WASHINGTON — The Army has entered the final stages of hashing out requirements for ramping up Stryker combat vehicle lethality and will make a decision in January on what it wants in order to increase its battlefield effectiveness. The service in January will hold an Army Requirements Oversight Council meeting, with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, to cement requirements on how it will improve the Stryker fleet's lethality, according to Lt. Gen. James Pasquarette, the service's new G-8 lead, in charge of program development and justification. The AROC will produce a “kind of ‘Y in the road' of what we think we are going to want to look at,” when it comes to making the Stryker more lethal, Pasquarette told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting. The Army conducted a test fire of one of its 30mm cannon solutions on Stryker at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, as recently as last month, he noted. “We know we believe the Stryker has to have capability to defeat light armor,” Pasquarette said. “We are developing the concept more to validate that on the front-end.” The Army is looking at roughly three different caliber weapons systems, he said. They include a couple of Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations with different caliber weapons, as well as a 30mm cannon like what was outfitted on Strykers that went to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany earlier this year. “We want to make sure the concept is tight, about what we think we need based on threat and capability we want to have, then we will have to see what direction we go,” which could include competitions to upgun the fleet — or parts of the fleet — in the future, Pasquarette said. “We are still determining balance. Does everyone need to have this, or is it just parts of the fleet?” Pasquarette asked. “How do we want to fight Stryker units, if we have this capability in there?” Full article: https://www.defensenews.com/digital-show-dailies/ausa/2018/10/10/army-in-final-stages-of-hashing-out-stryker-lethality-requirements

  • Congress demands quicker fielding of hypersonic weapons interceptor

    18 décembre 2023 | International, Naval

    Congress demands quicker fielding of hypersonic weapons interceptor

    Lawmakers have mandated the Pentagon field a defensive hypersonic interceptor several years earlier than current Defense Department estimates.

Toutes les nouvelles